Many and Varied Thoughts


In a phone conversation with my sister in Los Angeles yesterday she mentioned that she had begun to follow Dor at Technicolor Daydreams after reading some of her comments on my blog.


Oh so very long ago.

My sister brought my attention to a post that Dor had written in November and that somehow I had missed.  The post describes heating in those days when we didn’t all have central heating and used other means of heating the house.  See the post here.

For both of us, this brought back so many memories.  When we were growing up we had not only an open fire in the living room but also a heater in the kitchen that heated water and the one and only radiator in the house.  The open fire used coal and the kitchen heater used coke. For those of you not familiar to this material (and how many are as old as me?) coke comes from coal is grey, hard, and porous and is produced in much the same way as charcoal.

Coal and coke were delivered each week and we had two large bins outside the kitchen door for the coalman to dump them into.  The coalman has now disappeared and open fires are no longer allowed in London.  I wrote about the fog, soot and smoke (smog) caused by open fires in an earlier blog.

Oil heater

From memory this looks like our heater

In memory, the house was always warm but this was achieved with not only the two fires and one water reticulated radiator, but with a variety of other sources.  We had various electric heaters around the house and we also had a kerosene heater in the bedroom I shared with my older sister.  It had a distinctive smell and it too left pretty pictures on the ceiling.  I do remember that if one or other of us had the dreaded bronchitis so prevalent in London at the time, mother would put a kettle of water with Friar’s Balsam in it on top of the heater.  The resulting steam which we inhaled, helped to clear the bronchial tubes in those far off days before inhalers were readily available.

I don’t remember that there were any problems with the one at home.  Only father was ever allowed to fill the thing but we three girls had to take ourselves off to the hardware shop to buy the kerosene and carry it home in a can.  The can was quite heavy and it seems that there was always discussion as to whose turn it was to carry it.

Then when my dashing-young-Scotsman and I moved into our first “garden” apartment (here read semi-basement apartment), we had a really stylish oil heater.  In the cold winter months following our wedding, we would leave this thing on in the hall so that the apartment was warm on our return from work.  One day, when my (very new) husband was away on business I arrived home to find great stalactites of oily grease hanging from the ceiling.  The heater had blown something during the day – how lucky that we didn’t cause a fire. But what was a very young bride to do?  A quick call to the family home, some ten minutes walk away, resulted in both mother and father arriving and taking charge.  They cleaned, scrubbed and dusted while I looked on providing copious cups of tea and encouraging words!

Of course, the ceiling had to be repainted and my very adaptable clever father did this over the next few days.

What memories are revived when reading other people’s blogs.  Thank you Dor and thank you, Christine, for bringing the post to my attention and thus reviving these memories.

14 responses to “Many and Varied Thoughts

  1. Wonderful post. It made me think of my childhood house that had one heat grate in the front hall, over which we all congregated to get dress. Brrrrr… On the bright side, it was a great place to get rid of vegetables.


  2. Thanks Elyse. Strange how we all managed to live and survive without all the mod cons we now have and take for granted. 🙂


  3. Congrats Judith well deserved! I gave your link to Cecilia who is from NZ currently living in the Midwest USA with her American Hubby. You two might enjoy each other! she is


  4. Oh, I so enjoyed this walk back in time to the kerosene heater you had in your bedroom! I am also delighted that your sister is following and that we all have so much in common. And you well deserve the Candle Lighter Award Judith, from all I have seen..


  5. I always smile when you mention your dashing young Scotsman 🙂


  6. We had a coal stove in the living room, and a couple small gas heaters for the kitchen and a bedroom. Primitive compared to today’s heating. I can’t imagine the ceiling mess. Parents are wonderful!


  7. My parents have rescued me several times, too. It seems they always know what to do (and I wonder if I’ll ever get there:)) We never had kerosene heaters, but we did have a wood stove in one of our houses. That thing was great!


    • I only lived close to my parents for the first few years of married life and they were great. I only had to call and they were there. I certainly missed them when I moved away. 🙂


  8. Isn’t it great to have parents close by to rescue you when you need it? We lived in Texas and my parents lived in Connecticut, so no rescuing for me. I know my daughter has wished, on more than one occasion, that we lived near them.

    I remember a coal room and a coal chute in the basement of my grandparents old house in Ohio. The house had been converted to oil heat by the time I was born, but the coal room fascinated me.


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